MARYLAND BUSINESS EXPRESS TEAM

2019

SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN AWARD WINNERS

In a 2014 Gallup survey, 47% of Marylanders stated that they wanted to leave Maryland. Survey factors that caused people to feel this way included a low trust in their state government and a poor business climate. These factors highlight some of the challenges Michael Higgs and his team faced at the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT).  Whether it is an entrepreneur trying to start a home business or a corporation in existence for decades, SDAT maintains the paperwork that allows businesses to operate in Maryland. Every year, the private sector offers more and more online services, but the public sector has not moved as quickly in this direction – and as of 2015, neither did SDAT. Three years ago, most charter filing transactions were completed by mail or in person. If a person wanted to start a business or reserve a trade name in Maryland, they had to wait 10 weeks while paperwork was processed. After the business owner filed their annual Personal Property Return, they had to wait 14 weeks for assessors to review the submission.

Today, thanks to a strong push by Mr. Higgs for his agency to provide more services online, 68% of all new business formations and trade names are filed online, 50% of which occur outside normal business hours.

The MBE portal offers aggregated content across Maryland state agencies and is the go-to location for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to locate information and online services necessary to plan, start, manage and grow their business. The portal is the result of the collaborative efforts of thirteen Maryland agencies and combines information previously spread across multiple agencies into one, easy-to-navigate site while also providing a clear outline of the steps involved in starting and managing a business. The portal also points business customers to online business services to quickly and easily complete and submit information required to register a business and trade name, manage legal entities, establish tax accounts, manage and maintain professional licenses, and electronically apply for and renew many state licenses.

 

The MBE portal features an innovative business-specific Chatbot designed to communicate with and deliver business guidance to Marylanders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Using Artificial Intelligence, this digital assistant is the first of its kind to be trained by any state government specific to multi-agency business rules and regulations.

 

Along with aggregated content, MBE boasts over 40 filing types in the Filing and Registration channel with an additional 300 filing types in the Statewide licensing channel. 100% of these services have been optimized for mobile use.

 

End-user feedback is processed through a customer feedback loop. After the initial interaction within the MBE portal, the customer is presented with pathways to provide feedback. Customers who are not satisfied with the service or would like to provide suggestions for new or changed functionality are contacted with the goal of learning more about the customer’s feedback. This feedback is then placed in the product backlog and used to enhance the service. This feedback loop has resulted in a total of 8 major releases and 251 service enhancements since 2013. This ongoing reinvestment into the multi-functional portal directly correlates with the annual increase in online usage, growing on average of 10% annually.

 

In fact, feedback received from customers of the Maryland Business Express portal was the catalyst for developing the Plan, Start, Manage, and Grow Resource channel and Business Chatbot. It was clear that budding entrepreneurs and business owners needed a centralized resource that eliminated government silos that offered clear guidance with easily digestible content that covered each phase of the business lifecycle. The Business Chatbot communicates with and deliver business guidance to Marylanders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The bot is the primary channel for 43% of business support inquiries received.

 

The feedback provided by the users of the Maryland Business Express portal helps participating agencies with their mission to provide a business-friendly culture in Maryland and becoming one of the top states for entrepreneurial business growth.

 

There are many metrics for evaluating a successful customer-service offering, but none are more important than the ongoing satisfaction of Maryland MBE portal users. To that end, all users are asked to complete a short, optional customer satisfaction survey.

 

Responses to the survey reveal the following:

1. 96% customer satisfaction rating

2. 95% customer rating for ease of use

3. 96% of customers felt it was a faster alternative to visiting a government office

MICHAEL HIGGS

DIRECTOR

MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF ASSESSMENTS & TAXATION

 

DENISE HERNDON

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF ASSESSMENTS & TAXATION

CORBETT WEBB

CHIEF OF STAFF

MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF ASSESSMENTS & TAXATION

LISA BROZNOWICZ

CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER

MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF ASSESSMENTS & TAXATION

FALLON PEARRE

PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER

MARIA MATHIAS

BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY ADMINISTRATOR

PAULA MCLEAN

CHARTER LEGAL REVIEW PROGRAM MANAGER

LISHA WILLIAMS

CHARTER FILING / PROCESSING PROGRAM MANAGER

THOR GIBBONS

DEPUTY CIO, STATE DEPARTMENT OF ASSESSMENTS & TAXATION

ALLISON MAYER

COMMERCE, MANAGING DIRECTOR

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

 

GREGORY DERWART

COMMERCE, MANAGING DIRECTOR

ADMINISTRATION & CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

CAROLYN HAMMOCK

COMMERCE, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MARKETING

ALISON TAVIK

GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF SMALL, MINORITY & WOMEN BUSINESS AFFAIRS DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

VICTORIA WILKINS

LABOR, LICENSING & REGULATION COMMISSIONER

RANDALL NIXON

GOVERNMENT'S BUSINESS OMBUDSMAN

SHARONNE BONARDI

DEPUTY COMPTROLLER

LUIS BORUNDA

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE

This best-of-breed, multi-agency business platform has positively impacted Maryland citizens and businesses by:
 

  • Significantly decreasing paper filing backlogs and customer wait time.

  • Business formation approval times for online filers has been reduced from 10 weeks to 1 day

  • Decreasing the time to process paper business filings from 57 days to 28 days

  • Reducing the average time to assess Annual Business Filings and Tax Return online filings from 88 to 39 days

  • Reducing the average time to assess Annual Business Filings and Tax Return paper filings reduced from 98 to 73 days

  • Reducing trade name processing times from 10 weeks to 48 hours

  • Reducing processing paper document copy requests from 10 weeks to 5 weeks

  • Decreasing the average wait times at the customer service counter from 45 minutes to less than 30 minutes

  • Eliminating the time, expense, and risk of managing a conventional paper and postage-based registration. A cost benefits analysis completed by the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) found the cost to process a paper filing is $9.26 vs. $0.70 to process an electronic filing. Over 856,000 business filings have been electronically submitted to SDAT, resulting in over $7.3M in agency cost avoidance versus paper transactions.

For Questions /  Contact us at info@servicetothecitizen.org

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